New Jersey's Metlife Stadium has been called "The House That Eli Built" after the New York Giants' Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Eli Manning. His brother Peyton may wish it had been built with a roof.
Snow, sleet and glacial temperatures are polar possibilities when Peyton leads the Denver Broncos into Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2.
Fox analyst Troy Aikman hopes the weather will be nothing like it was Dec. 8 in Philadelphia, when heavy snow blanketed the field and caused a near whiteout in the Eagles' 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions. "It has a bearing not only on the passing game — it has a bearing on everything," says Aikman, who will be in the booth with his play-by-play partner Joe Buck. "They couldn't even kick extra points in that game. I'm hopeful that's not the case."
Any wintry conditions befalling the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold-weather environment are fine by John Entz, Fox Sports' executive vice president of production. "The truth is that bad weather makes for great TV," he says. "It makes it more logistically difficult for everybody behind the scenes, but if you're sitting at home watching, it adds a layer of intrigue."
Aikman says inclement weather would wreak more havoc on Denver's offense than on Seattle's. "Peyton had 55 touchdowns [in the regular season], so it tells you how reliant they've been on throwing the ball," he says. "Whereas Seattle — that's not really their style. They'd prefer to not have to throw the ball."
No matter the conditions, the heat is on Manning to continue the Broncos' torrid pace on offense. They rolled up 507 yards in their 26-16 win over the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship. During the regular season, coach John Fox's squad averaged an NFL-record 37.9 points per game, was the first team to surpass 600 points in a season and amassed a league-high 457.3 yards per game.
Meanwhile, coach Pete Carroll's Seahawks made their marks on the defensive charts, giving up a league-low 14.4 points and 273.6 yards per game.
After forcing three turnovers in their come-from-behind 23-17 NFC Championship victory over the San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks will get to show their toughness against the high-powered Broncos. "We wouldn't have it any other way," says Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who led the league with eight regular-season interceptions. "They're an unbelievable, record-setting offense with a Hall of Fame quarterback. That's as tough a game as you can get in the Super Bowl. The No. 1 defense vs. the No. 1 offense. It doesn't happen like this too often."
The game also features what Aikman calls "the young gun versus NFL royalty, as far as quarterbacks go." Seattle's Russell Wilson is in only his second year in the league, while Manning has been a starter since his 1998 rookie season and is playing his third Super Bowl. He went twice with the Indianapolis Colts, winning in 2007.
For Manning, another Super Bowl ring would cap an amazing comeback. He underwent neck surgery, which sidelined him for the entire 2011-12 season, and was then released by the Colts. "For all practical purposes, it looked like his career was over a couple of years ago," Aikman says. "This year, at age 37, is arguably the best season of his career, which speaks volumes. This guy has shown no decline."
For more on the Super Bowl, check out this week's TV Guide Magazine, available on digital devices on Thursday, Jan. 23!
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